The Translation of Swiss Vocational Education and Training into Other Cultural Contexts

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Carmen BAUMELER, Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, Switzerland
Currently, we are witnessing international interest in vocational education and training (VET). This is due to the fact that in the present global economic downturn, countries with well-developed VET systems face much lower youth unemployment rates. Worldwide, around one in eight young people between the ages of 15 and 24 is unemployed. While the importance of prioritizing job creation is acknowledged, the opinion is also that many young people lack the right skills for the labor market. Therefore, adequate skills are demanded, and policymakers currently seek to borrow concepts from countries that successfully integrate young people in their labor markets. These countries include Switzerland (with an average youth unemployment rate in 19992008 of 6.9%), Austria (7.5%), Denmark (8.2%), and Germany (10.9%) (ILO, 2012: 5). They are characterized by a high proportion of young people following the vocational education track and, furthermore, have implemented dual VET systems (i.e. combining classroom instruction with work-based training) and the pursuit of competence-based education.

Within this context, this paper considers whether competence-based education, as defined from a western European perspective, is transferable from one cultural context to another. First of all, the paper introduces the topic of international policy borrowing and lending in the field of education (Steiner-Khamsi & Waldow, 2012). Afterwards, the concept of competence-based education is defined as a new educational paradigm (Wesselink, Biemans, Mulder, & van den Elsen, 2007) and situated within its cultural context. Next, the paper introduces the case study of an educational transfer from Switzerland to India ˗ a country actively engaged in reforming its VET system (Singh, 2012). Detailed insight into actual experiences will be given on the basis of two interviews with the main actors. The conclusion discusses the cultural context sensitivity of competence-based VET.